While our communities and the country overall face challenges, there is still so much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Bright lights that shine though any controversies are the Parks and Recreation Departments of both the City of Hopewell and Prince George County.

These two organizations have grown, prospered and continue to meet the needs and wants of their communities.

In Hopewell, under the direction of Aaron Reidmiller, the Recreation department not only serves those who use the Community Center for the pool and to work out, but, wow, we now have an ice skating rink. A rink, by the way, he found at the low cost of about $40,000 which will undoubtably see an even higher return on that cost.

Sunday’s events like the Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade are other glowing examples of how this department serves as the thread that keeps the community together.

In Prince George, Recreation Department Director Keith Rotzoll has helped the organization soar to new heights with two new facilities for gatherings, work out classes and gyms for a minimal fee to join and participate. And a lot of funding for these additions came from grants and donations, thanks to the behind the scenes work.

And, also in the past week, the department put on the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in cooperation with the Prince George Regional Heritage Center, and the annual parade on Saturday.

At one time this department was focussed solely on the youth sports, and while that still remains an important part of their mission and has a great benefit to the community overall, Rotzoll saw the need to reach out to others.

From youngsters to seniors citizens in both Hopewell and Prince George there is something for everyone. There are water aerobics for all ages at the Hopewell Community Center. In Prince George there are tumbling classes for toddlers. The list goes on and on. And the two localities share these opportunities with their neighbors. Prince George residents can became members of the Hopewell Community Center at a slightly higher fee (which, by the way, makes sense since they aren’t paying the city’s taxes). In turn, Hopewell residents can sign up for the many work out classes available at the Prince George Wellness Center including yoga and Cize it Up dance classes.

Both of these organizations not only have great leaders at the helm they have motivated staff that are truly excited to serve the community.

For those who don’t take advantage of these wonderful opportunities they are missing out, but for those who do they must appreciate what their Parks and Recreation departments are offering. Thanks to all of the staff of both organizations for being that bright light in your community!

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Adrienne Wallace